Are you planning a camping trip in the coming months? Going camping is no reason to throw all your eco-friendly habits out the window. Here are some green camping tips that will help you live by the leave no trace principle.
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Why I Love Fall Camping
The days may still be hot, but summer is quickly coming to a close. As we move into September, the days will get cooler and the leaves will start to change colors. Fall is a wonderful time of year to consider heading out into the woods with your family for weekend camping. Cooler nights make sitting around a campfire a lot of fun and waking up in a warm sleeping bag on a chilly morning is a wonderful memory to give your kids. Teach them how to make camping more green and they will in turn tell their OWN children when the time comes!
Camping does require a bit of preparation and planning in order to be truly enjoyable. No one wants to get out into the woods only to realized they forgot a few important items! There are a number of ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint while camping. Follow these green camping tips and not only will you have FUN, but you will tread lightly as well!
Stay on the hiking trail
This is one of the most important green camping tips I can offer. When you head out hiking, it is important that you stay on marked trails. Heading off on your own into unmarked areas causes native plants to be trampled and may lead to increased soil erosion.
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What to Bring Day Hiking
Whether you plan to head out on the trail for a couple hours or several months, the American Hiking Society recommends everyone pack well to be prepared on the trail. What sort of things should you pack for a hike? Here are a few of my recommendations:
- Hiking backpack. I cannot stress enough that quality really does matter here.
- Weather-appropriate clothing. Dress in layers that are easy to put on and off as temperatures change.
- Hiking boots or something similar. Don’t try hiking in sneakers.
- Plenty of food. Check out my post on the best trail food to keep you fueled up.
- Plenty of water. I like a nice, sturdy Nalgene Water Bottle for carrying it.
- Navigation tools such as a map and compass. Don’t think you can always depend on your cell phone. Not all areas will have service.
- First-aid kit. This is very, VERY important.
- Knife or multi-tool. A camping multi tool is invaluable on your next camping trip.
Take only pictures and leave only footprints
Make sure you are respectful of your campsite. If you are hiking with kids, sit them down for a long chat before you go. You should not be picking flowers, breaking tree branches, or leaving trash behind. The only thing you should take from your campsite are memories and the only thing you should leave behind are footprints! Camping sustainably means that the area you leave looks just like it did when you got there. Recycling while camping isn’t always easy so try to bring things you don’t need to discard at all.
Like these Green Camping Tips? Here are More hiking tips to read:
- How to Avoid Knee Pain While Hiking
- How to Avoid Bee Stings While Enjoying Nature
- Wildlife Safety Tips for Outdoor Family Vacations
Buy second hand gear
Buying used camping gear can save you a lot of money, especially if you are new to camping and not sure it is something your family will really enjoy. Check online for people selling camping gear in your area or check your local thrift stores. There are also a few second hand sports stores which may be able to help.
Unplug for Your Camping Weekend
One of the biggest benefits of heading into the woods is unplugging from your daily life for a few days. If you drag your laptop and your cell phone with you, chances are you really aren’t getting the full benefit of a weekend in the woods. Keep a cell phone for emergencies only but other than that, leave the electronics at home. Invest in a solar phone charger so you will have your phone ready for emergencies.
Choose a local campground
Cut down on travel and emissions by choosing a local state park or campground for your camping experience. Search for a national forest near your home that allows for camping.
How to Choose the Perfect Campsite
- Do not leave your campsite choice until the end of the day. Choose it early and set it up before you head out hiking. That way, you know you have a good site to come back to when you are tired from a long day. And you aren’t setting up your tent in the dark.
- Make sure your campsite has access to water. You can haul it if you have to but I have done this and can tell you that water is VERY heavy.
- Check the site for obvious hazards including rocks you may trip over, snakes, and other dangerous creatures.
- Look for natural camp furniture like a fallen log to sit on. Those come on quite handy!
- Set your tend up facing the sunrise. It’s a beautiful way to wake up in the morning.
Don’t bring your own firewood
While bringing firewood from home might save you some money, you increase the spread of disease and pests at your camping destination. Cut down on the spread of tree disease by purchasing fire wood once you get to your destination.
Green Camping Means Safe Campfires
Forest fires are a huge ecological concern. Do your part to make sure that your campfire is safe. Build fires only in approved fire rings and make sure to clear debris away from the outer area of the ring. Be aware of any fire bans that may be in effect in your area. Put the fire out and pour water over it before heading to bed or leaving your campsite. Check out my post about uses for wood ash if you want to have an even smaller carbon footprint.
There are many ways to have a more eco friendly camping trip. These are just a few green camping tips that I try to use when my family goes camping or hiking. Consider making some DIY snacks and meals to bring along. Think carefully about how much waste you are creating and pack out your trash. Compost and recycle everything you can and buy organic food for your camping trip when possible.
Choose biodegradable soap and camping toothpaste to minimize it’s impact on your camping space. Every small choice you make plays a big part on the overall sustainability of your camping trip. Remembering the nature saving rules of responsible camping is a good way to ensure that clean camping spaces remain for decades to come.
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.